Tableau Software

Tableau Software Review

BI Tools Review of Tableau Software

Tableau Software logo



Tableau Software – This is a consultant’s candid review of Tableau® Software in regards to other BI Tools.  Recently we were asked by a division of a Fortune 1000 company to do an evaluation of the current Business Intelligence tools out there and recommend an analytic tool that could be deployed not only departmentally but enterprise wide if needed.  This tool needed to be able to integrate into 3rd party applications such as’s CRM platform.  The tool needed to provide predictive analytics to help users discover hidden patterns and emerging trends so business users could spot near-term as well as future opportunities.  And, the last major criteria this tool needed to have was good post-sale support.  Including technical troubleshooting and a robust training offering (for beginning users to power users needing advanced analytic training courses).

Upon evaluation of Tableau Software current version Tableau 7, we came to the following conclusions:

Quick Snapshot:

  • Tableau Software is easy to use for Business Users.
  • Tableau Software is not a true enterprise analytics platform; it is more like a Business Intelligence Application.
  • Tableau Software’s “In-Memory” engine isn’t the rapid fire fast analytics tool they claim in our opinion; since it continually queries the database, which frequently results in slow system performance and latency.  While Spotfire® provides fast analytics and faster data analysis through their architecture.
  • Tableau Software can connect to cube-based data sources such as Microsoft Analysis Services and other OLAP data sources.
  • Tableau Software cannot be customized or integrated with other applications (such as®).  Basically what comes in the box is what you get.  No way to extend it.
  • Tableau Software lacks robust enterprise-class security (only supports Microsoft Active Directory).
  • Tableau Software has no predictive or event-enabled capabilities, and its statistical capabilities are extremely limited and are less than what you get from Microsoft Excel.
  • Tableau Software does not support expanded analytics such as Box plots, network graphs, tree-maps, heat-maps, 3D-scatter plots, Profile Charts or data relationships tool which allow users to mine data for relationships like another data visualization software does (such as Spotfire).
  • Tableau Software does not integrate collaborative capabilities into social platforms (like Twitter, Microsoft SharePoint, etc.) like Spotfire does.  A very hot trend.  It is for Business users to share their findings and progress.  Think of it like – email meets Twitter meets Facebook.
  • Tableau Software is not organizationally equipped to serve enterprise customers; therefore post-sale customer support and training are quite limited.

BI Tools Evaluation Table of Tableau Software:

Tableau Review

Tableau vs Spotfire 5.0















Below is a more detailed discussion of our findings of Tableau Software compared to a more robust BI Tool – such as Spotfire. Call me if you are going through an evaluation of BI Tools for your company or department and we will do a free assessment of your needs to determine the right BI Tool for you.  You can reach me directly at: Terry Martin (630) 574-7656 or click here for the Contact Form to reach me.

Tableau Software is an easy to use BI application, but still not a platform for developing analytic applications that can be broadly shared.  It is not designed for enterprise wide deployments that have broad business and technical user populations.  Unlike a BI Tool we have evaluated and now support, which is Spotfire.  Spotfire is a very user friendly BI enterprise analytics platform that can be used to deploy analytic dashboards across thousands of users (on desktops or iPads).  Spotfire allows users to quickly create guided applications to share broadly across the enterprise.  In fact, any business user can create these “apps” for any business user – without IT intervention.

If business users need to interact with the BI Tool (such as using filters, re-sizing all visualization panels or change axis in a chart) via the web, Tableau Software does not have a zero footprint web client.  Spotfire’s users can get access to the tool with just a browser or an iPad (of course with proper security credentials – a weakness of Tableau Software).  However, with Tableau Software you are only able to authenticate through Microsoft Active Directory, whereas Spotfire, by contrast, offers a sophisticated authentication module that provides the ability to deliver Single Sign-On through a number of methods, including Microsoft Active Directory, NTLM, Kerberos, or even customized implementations of solutions like Siteminder.  And a customer can even define a custom authentication module.

Tableau Software recently added an in-memory feature; this add-on capability is built for offline work and can be complex to use.  In fact, Tableau Software is primarily an in-database engine, as I mentioned before, that continually queries a given database, frequently causing slow system performance and latency concerns.  And to compensate for this slow system performance, Tableau Software requires a pre-formatted, well-tuned data source in order to get reasonable performance.  On the other hand, Spotfire’s in-memory design (its fundamental architecture) provides vastly shortened query response times and in turn allows for “instant” decision making.

Additionally, Tableau Software does not offer a SDK (software development kit) to support API’s which allow customers to automate, integrate and extend the business intelligence platform into 3rd party applications such  An important consideration for many customers.

Another important feature our customer was looking for was predictive analytics capability.  In other words, allowing users to discover valuable “hidden” relationships / patterns and emerging trends in their data (both historical and current).  This feature was needed to allow users to analyze data and what has happened in the past and what is happening now in order to “predict” / forecast what is likely to happen In the future.  This empowers users to make informed, data-driven decisions today so they can be in the best position for tomorrow.  Marketing business users really like this feature since it is like having a crystal ball for new opportunities.  Tableau Software seems to be stuck in the past allowing users to only analyze what has happened.  And, Tableau Software does not have any statistical or predictive capabilities (they do not support SAS, S+, R, ect. like Spotfire does).  Therefore users cannot model or project the best cross-selling or upselling opportunities.  In fact Tableau Software is statistically “challenged” and is extremely limited; providing users with less statistic functions than Microsoft Excel.

As far as post-sale customer support, Tableau Software is very limited in this area too.  Tableau Software is not organizationally equipped to serve enterprise customers.  When it comes to technical troubleshooting and various levels of professional support Spotfire is a great choice.  Generally, Spotfire’s value added resellers (an extensive network of partners) help provide the first level of support (although Spotfire can too) giving the customer a sense of assurance, knowing that they have someone who can immediately help them.  Spotfire’s professional consultants can help support, extend and customize the deployment across the enterprise as needed.  Spotfire also has excellent training offerings via in-person or over the internet.

One last feature I like about Spotfire’s BI platform that Tableau Software does not offer is the collaborative bookmark feature.  Spotfire provides integration with social platforms (such as Microsoft SharePoint, Twitter, Tibbr, etc.) to streamline the decision making process.  Spotfire can be embedded within enterprise portals, web pages, SharePoint, social platforms allowing for a more effective and transparent decision process.  All this is done with security in mind (i.e. existing security permissions are honored so users see only the data that they are permitted to see).

In summary, we feel that Spotfire was the smarter choice for the customer who asked us to evaluate the latest BI Tools and is the best business intelligence software for any company looking to add an intuitive, easy to use, data visualization tool and business intelligence analytics platform to their organization.  No matter what their size.

If you would like to talk about your company’s needs please call me: Terry Martin on my direct line – (630) 574-8376 or use the contact form to reach me.

However, if an organization only cares about ease of use for a particular department, and does not care about predictive analytics (or for that matter, a BI Tool that has less statistical capability than Microsoft Excel), dimension-free data exploration, social collaboration or rolling out intelligence analytics across the entire organization then Tableau Software is the choice for them.